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Timing Skews Latest Filing Report

The latest statistics for the 2021 tax filing season must have some people scratching their heads. But it probably reflects timing difference of that reflects last year's extension of the filing season through July 15 compared to this year's which ended May 17. 


The IRS report for the periodended May shows total returns were 11.8-percent high than the period ended May 22, 2020.  Last year’s results were skewed by the inclusion of about 8 million returns filed by those who were not required to file but did so to receive Economic Impact Payments. Add to that the timing differencess in comparing two seasons that had different deadlines and it's tough to analyze the differences between the two seasons

"I  would compare this last report to the July 24, 2020 report," says Jon Baron, co-founder and head of strategy for Make the Connection. Baron, who headed the professional segment for Thomson Reuters’ tax and accounting for 21 years, notes, "If you do that, the pros are flat to 2020."

There still may be an impact on pro filings by Intuit, which began its TurboTax Live Ful Service, a fully assisted service for which Intuit hired thousands of tax preparers. However, Intuit has not publicly discussed the results of that program in its first year of wide availability.

All statistics jumped significantly from the report through May 14 and  mean, maybe not much than th total.There were 148,012,000 returns filed as of the most recent report, rising from 132,351,000 a year ago.

Total efiles reached 138,563,000, up 15.9 percent from 119,544,000  in last year’s corresponding period. Tax professionals were the source of 74,195,000 efiles, a rise of 22.9 percent from 60,372,000. There were 64,368,000 self-prepared efiles in this year’s most recently ended period, an increase of 8.8 percent from 59,172,000 .

The number of refunds issues rose 6.4 percent to 95,632,000 from 89,840,000. The average refund rose 2 percent to $2,827 while directly deposited refunds fell to $2,899, off .5 percent from last year.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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